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Indie bookstores find innovative ways to thrive with online, pop-up and subscription models

A young reader at People Get Ready in New Haven
People Get Ready
A young reader at People Get Ready in New Haven

This hour on Where We Live, we look into strategies that build resilience in local bookstores and discuss pandemic book launches. Long-time indie bookshops continue to stay afloat and even thrive despite the ongoing pandemic. Amazoncontrolsmore than half of the market for print books and at least three-quarters of publishers’ ebook sales.

We also talk to booksellers about trends, including eliminating or reducing inventory-holding costs by selling on Bookstore.org –the Amazon for indies.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) lists the top five trends for indie bookstores in 2022. According to the ABA, nationally, 250 indie bookstores opened, and 98 closed in 2020 and 2021.

The ABA’s Ray Daniels told Where We Live:

“Trends we continue to take note of include; an increase in the number of BIPOC-owned stores; an increase in the number of stores owned by Black women; continued experimentation with store formats – new models like pop-up stores, mobile stores, and fluidity between formats. Stores are moving from brick-and-mortar to online then to pop-up, or from pop-up to brick-and-mortar, or brick-and-mortar opening additional pop-up locations.”

Here is a list of Connecticut's indie bookstores:

New bookstore openings in Connecticut include: 

Several of the new bookshops sell to under-represented communities, and all are focussed on building a local third space. We discuss the ‘doing well by doing good’ indie business model. Will it endure?
We also look into store closures and fundraisers to keep indies open. That Book Store in Wethersfield and Elliot’s Bookstore in Northford are among those that shut down, while fundraisers are underway to reopen New Haven’s Never Ending Books, and to keep Bennett’s Books in Deep River open.


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Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.